Having completed enquiries within Essex Police in respect of Section 1(1)(a), Essex Police does hold information relating to your request, Essex Police can confirm in respect of Section 1(1)(b) the following data:
Caveat: The data is correct as at 24 August 2021.
Who is/are your current supplier/s.
The current supplier is Cooneen Protection.
When does the contract end.
We are not currently in contract with Cooneen Protection.
How long was the contract term.
When will the new procurement process start.
The Metropolitan Police Service are currently running a tender process on behalf of all Forces for the next generation of general patrol body armour.
What is the current level of protection.
The levels of protection are in line with the Home Office standards for body armour, the exemptions of Section 24(1) National Security, Section 31(1) Law Enforcement and Section 38(1) Health & Safety apply.
What is the current unit price per vest.
The current unit price is £322.00.
What was the total value of the contract award.
How many units of body armour have been purchased during the contract term.
For 2020 we placed orders for 698 sets of standard patrol armour. This figure will fluctuate depending on the amount of new Officers Essex takes on per year and the need for replacement body armour required due to wear and tear.
No further information will be disclosed in respect of Question 5 by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 24(1) National Security
Section 31(1) Law Enforcement
Section 38(1) Health & Safety
Any release under the FOIA is a disclosure to the world, not just to the individual making the request. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing and every effort should be made to release information under the FOIA to ensure the Police Service is appropriately and effectively protecting individuals, including Police Officers to reveal the specific level of protection would highlighted the limitations of Police capabilities in this area, which may further encourage criminal/terrorist activity by exposing potential vulnerabilities.
Public Interest Considerations
Factors Favouring Disclosure for Section 24
The information simply relates to National Security and disclosure would not actually harm it.
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by disclosing this information the public would be able to see where public money is being spent.
In the current financial climate of cuts and with the call for transparency of public spending this would encourage a debate about the type of tactical equipment procured.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure for Section 24
To reveal the specific level of protection offered could mean that persons with mal-intent (criminal and terrorist) could hinder the apprehension of offenders. In addition, any disclosure which increases the risk of harm to any individual, including Police Officers, is clearly not advised and undermines National Security overall.
The public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and that of Police Officers and the only way of reducing the risk is to be cautious with what is placed into the public domain.
Factors Favouring Disclosure for Section 31
Where public funds are being spent, there is a public interest in accountability and justifying the use of public money.
Some information is already in the public domain regarding the Police use of this type of tactical equipment.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure for Section 31
To provide any further information regarding the level of protection offered could compromise Law Enforcement and undermine policing, by providing the capability of individual items would hinder the Police Service’s ability to prevent and detect criminality thus impeding the basic principles of Law Enforcement concerning the prevention of crime and apprehension of offenders.
Factors Favouring Disclosure for Section 38
By disclosing the information, the public would see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness regarding the type of tactical equipment procured and the assurance that best value for money has been obtained and the protection given would lead to a better informed public awareness and debate.
Factors Favouring Non-Disclosure for Section 38
Providing specific detail regarding the level of protection offered by body armour could adversely increase the harm to public and Police Officer safety as disclosure may assist persons with mal-intent to understand the level of protection that is provided by the procured body armour. Protection is designed to assist and help safeguard Officers. Providing disclosure would increase harm, this also would likely lead to a loss of confidence in Essex Police’s ability to protect the public.
It would not be in the public interest to reveal tactical information that could be defeated by persons with mal-intent (criminal and terrorist), thus impeding the basic principles of Law Enforcement concerning the prevention of crime and apprehension of offenders. Any disclosure which increases the risk of harm to any individual, including Police Officers, is clearly not advised and undermines National Security overall.
In addition, the effective delivery of operational Law Enforcement is of paramount importance to Essex Police in their duty to ensure the prevention and detection of crime is carried out and the effective apprehension or prosecution of offenders is maintained.
Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for non-disclosure by virtue of the above exemptions is made out.